USA: Theater: "The Veiled Monologues"

المصدر: 
New York Sun
Opening soon: two plays from Adelheid Roosen based on the writer and director's interviews with Muslims living in the West. The complementary pieces, "The Veiled Monologues," and "Is. Man" will make their North American debut this weekend in New York.
"In the nearly three years since Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered following the release of his fictional film, "Submission," which cast a critical eye on Islam's treatment of women, ethnic and religious tensions in the Netherlands have reached a fevered pitch. Perhaps nowhere in Europe is the fault line between its native-born residents and its Muslim immigrant communities so treacherous as in the Dutch country of 16 million, home to nearly a million people from Morocco, Turkey, and other Islamic countries.
Now, from that fractured land come two plays by Adelheid Roosen based on the writer and director's interviews with Muslims living in the West. The complementary pieces, "The Veiled Monologues," and "Is. Man" will make their North American debut this weekend at St. Ann's Warehouse in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn.

"The Veiled Monologues" is a series of 12 intimate sketches of pious Muslim women discussing topics such as preserving virginity, undergoing female excision, suppressing desire — and giving into that desire. The monologues, which take the audience into bathhouses and bedrooms, reference rituals and superstitions that may seem antiquated and misogynistic to a Western audience. More often, though, they relate explicit tales of sexual initiation, and spousal intimacy — eliciting images of flesh and sweat that the same audience may not associate with veiled women.

The show provides an Oriental counterpoint to Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues," which comprised candid sketches about the female anatomy. Indeed, Ms. Roosen said it was her stint acting in a Dutch production of Ms. Ensler's play that prompted her to write "The Veiled Monologues," adapted from her interviews with more than 70 Muslim women living in the Netherlands. "They let me into their home; they cried with me and laughed with me; they fed me; and they really lived their stories with me," she said.

Ms. Roosen added: "You step into a world where there is violence, but also a world in which you want to belong."

And while the dress, the continents, and the rites (and some of the rights) may be different, Ms. Roosen insists the women portrayed in Ms. Ensler's play and her own exhibit striking similarities. "The love is the same, the falling in love is the same, the jealousy is the same; the revenge is the same," she said.

On stage, Ms. Roosen drives home this point, opening "The Veiled Monologues" with a line penned by the contemporary avant-garde writer, PeterHandke: "The strange woman was so beautiful, I recognized her."

Ms. Roosen based her script for "Is. Man" on her real-life prison meetings with Muslim men who had been convicted of "honor killings" — the traditional, infrequent, and widely condemned murder of a female relative whose sexual encounters are perceived to have marred her family's honor. An honor killing can be prompted by adultery, the refusal to accept an arranged marriage, or even a rape. A fictional, and surprisingly sympathetic, protagonist in "Is. Man" is in prison for committing a heinous murder in an effort to restore his family's honor.

"‘The Veiled Monologues' is about women's erotic lives, and ‘Is. Man' is about a very cruel situation — and the culture and tradition behind it," Ms. Roosen said."

By: Gabrielle Birkner

05 October 2007